Super Use of 4K and 8K Comes to the Super Bowl
Fox Sports announced this week that the 51st Super Bowl “will be more awesome than usual” as it “will mark the first time that some of the on-field Super Bowl action will also be shot using a higher-resolution 8K camera.”
Last year, Japanese State broadcaster NHK used six 8K cameras to broadcast the Super Bowl to an audience at NHK headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. The 8K screen in Tokyo measured 300 inches.
Screen size is a paramount factor in greater-than-HD resolution viewing. There is no shortage of articles to explain this, but the rule of thumb is:
The higher the resolution, the lower may be the distance from the screen before the picture collapses in pixels. The lower the resolution, the greater must be the distance to make pixels capable to compose uniform objects.
Estimates are that most people sit nine feet away from their TVs. Applying the rule above means you’ll need a 100-inch display to keep the couch where it is. Alternatively, you can sit closer (perhaps uncomfortably so) to a “smaller” 4K display.
Most believe it is the high-dynamic range (HDR) component of the 4K UHD spec that will wow consumers long before they decide to sit closer to their TVs. HDR delivers higher-picture clarity within existing display viewing distances.
But let’s get back to that 8K. What is Fox doing with all that resolution? Might they be targeting folks on February 5th who are sitting four feet from their new 300-inch 8K displays?
No, they have a better idea — and it does look more awesome than usual.
Using Intel’s 360 Replay technology, Fox will use a mixture of 4K and 8K cameras to build real-time, 360-degree VR perspectives of game action from the players’ point of view on the field. Dozens of cameras around NRG Stadium will be connected via fiber to an Intel production room. Camera data will be processed together, composing every point in the stadium into individual volumetric pixels (or voxels), which are used to build a true three-dimensional reconstruction of the scene. The 4K and 8K frames will also allow high-resolution zoom-ins and zoom-outs on the field. Fox released this clip as an example.
The amount of processing power required to compose these images fast enough for live broadcast will be huge. Underneath it all will be networked storage systems that will have to supply an incredible amount of bandwidth to support the staggering data rates required for high-resolution production.
So, while 100-inch 4K and 300-inch 8K TVs may not find their way into homes anytime soon, we’ll still be able to reap the benefits of these greater-than-HD resolutions on Super Bowl Sunday. No need to scooch forward.